Project Minding Madness may be the most important theatre project you see this year.
Writer Joy Roberts has “co-devised and overseen the creation of the script from spoken words and workshopping,” done with real members of the Sydney community who have suffered from mental illness. The play is based word-by-word on accounts from adults who have bravely shared their personal childhood stories, which, as noted by Mrs Roberts, they may have been “holding onto for a very long time.”
What makes this play special, in the opinion of Joy, is “the power of the true stories. Knowing that every single word and story spoken is true.” In this way, it is practically a “social obligation to come and listen to these stories.” The cast of talented and experienced actors serves as a mouthpiece for these courageously shared experiences. Joy reminds us that people “in our communities,” or maybe even a relative or close friend, might be having a similar experience.
“Our neighbours, people that we work with, [or] people we go to school with” are quietly suffering. “Reality,” Mrs Roberts reminded me, “is bigger than theatre or anything that can be made up.”
The clinical power of sharing these stories is bigger than theatre as well, as noted by Psychologist Kerry Searle. “The right awareness and support” surrounding mental illness can lead to “the development of strengths rather than difficulties.”
A project such as this one is an important way to start conversation.
Project Minding Madness showcases for one night only, so do an important service to yourself and your community by getting a ticket.
Oct 18. Giant Dwarf Theatre, 199 Cleveland St, Redfern. $22-$25+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.giantdwarf.com.au
By Will Fournier